Landing Ship Infantry
1 Survey ship
ROYAL FLEET AUXILIARY
1 Freighter 1
Tugboat ROYAL NORWEGIAN NAVY
No. 12 Commando 223 men
Norwegian Company 77 men Eight divisions in Norway
three coastal defence
Luftwaffe Field Division
Luftwaffe Field Division
Unknown number of aircraft and naval forces
CASUALTIES AND LOSSES
1 light cruiser heavily damaged
1 patrol ship sunk
2 wireless stations destroyed
Norwegian Campaigns (1941–45)
* Oslo raid
* Attacks on Tirpitz
* 28 January 1945
* Black Friday
* 9 February 1945
Raids and Commando Actions in
Norway during World War II
* Kirkenes and Petsamo
* Heavy water sabotage
OPERATION ANKLET was the codename given to a
British Commando raid
Second World War . The raid on the
Lofoten Islands was
carried out in December 1941, by 300 men from
No. 12 Commando and the
Norwegian Independent Company 1 . The landing party was supported by
22 ships from three navies.
At the same time, another raid was taking place in
Vågsøy . This
Operation Archery , on 27 December 1941, and Operation Anklet
was seen as a diversionary raid for this bigger raid, intended to draw
away the German naval and air forces.
* 1 Background
* 2 Mission
* 3 Aftermath
* 4 Notes
* 4.1 Footnotes
* 5 Citations
* 5.1 Bibliography
* 6 External links
After the British Expeditionary Force had been evacuated from Dunkirk
in 1940, the then British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill called for
a force to be assembled and equipped to inflict casualties on the
Germans and bolster British morale. Churchill told the joint Chiefs of
Staff to propose measures for an offensive against German-occupied
Europe, and stated: "they must be prepared with specially trained
troops of the hunter class who can develop a reign of terror down the
One staff officer,
Dudley Clarke , had already
submitted such a proposal to
John Dill , the Chief of the
General Staff . Dill, aware of Churchill's intentions,
approved Clarke's proposal.
The Commandos came under the operational control of the Combined
Operations Headquarters . The man initially selected as the commander
Roger Keyes , a veteran of the
Gallipoli Campaign and
Zeebrugge Raid in the
First World War . In 1940, the call went
out for volunteers from among the serving Army soldiers within certain
formations still in Britain, and men of the disbanding Divisional
Independent Companies originally raised from Territorial Army
Divisions who had seen service in Norway.
Lofoten Islands form part of the north western Norwegian
coastline about 100 mi (160 km) inside the
Arctic Circle . Operation
Anklet would be the second raid on the islands. The first, Operation
Claymore , had taken place in March 1941, and the third raid,
Operation Archery , would take place at the same time as Operation
The raid was organised by the
Combined Operations Headquarters , and
would only use naval and land assets, the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force was not
involved. But it would be the last raid undertaken without air
The naval force formed for
Operation Anklet consisted of 22 ships
from three navies. The
Royal Navy provided the most ships which
included the light cruiser HMS Arethusa ; six destroyers (HMS Somali ,
Ashanti , Bedouin , Eskimo , Lamerton and Wheatland ); three
minesweepers (HMS Speedwell , Harrier and Halcyon ); two Landing Ship
Infantry (HMS Prins Albert and Prinses Josephine Charlotte); the
submarines HMS Tigris , HMS Sealion ; and the survey ship HMS Scott .
Royal Fleet Auxiliary provided two fleet tankers (RFA Grey Ranger
and Black Ranger ); the freighter
Gudrun Maersk ; and the Tugboat
Royal Norwegian Navy provided the corvettes HNoMS Andenes
and Eglantine , while the
Polish Navy provided the destroyers OORP
Krakowiak and Kujawiak .
The landing force was supplied by 223 men of
No. 12 Commando ,
supported by 77 men of the
Norwegian Independent Company 1 .
The naval task force was assembled at three locations:
Scapa Flow ,
Lerwick . The task force, now known as Force J, left
Greenock for the
Lofoten Islands on Monday 22 December, and
Lerwick the following day. En route to join up with the main
force, the infantry landing ship Prinses Josephine Charlotte developed
engine trouble, and together with her destroyer escort Wheatland was
sent back to Scapa, arriving on 24 December. Wheatland left Scapa
alone on 25 December to catch up with the rest of Force J. As the
task force approached the islands, the submarine Sealion was already
in position to act as a navigational beacon for the attack, which was
planned for 26 December.
When the task force arrived, the infantry landing ship Prins Albert,
escorted by destroyer Lamerton and corvettes Eglantine and Acanthus,
Moskenesøya to land the commandos. Some of the other
ships conducted operations around the islands. The destroyer Bedouin
destroyed a radio station at
Flakstadøya , while the cruiser Arethusa
and destroyers Somali, Ashanti, and Eskimo entered the Vestfjorden .
Here they captured the Norwegian coastal steamers Kong Harald and
Nordland and Ashanti sank a German patrol boat.
Reine one of the
villages occupied in the raid
The 300-man landing force landed at 06:00 on
Boxing Day . The date
had been selected by British planners, who expected the German
garrison to be concentrating on the
Christmas festivities and would
therefore be caught unprepared. The landings were unopposed as the
commandos, dressed in white camouflaged overalls, were landed on the
western side of the island of
Moskenesøya . They soon occupied the
Moskenes , capturing the small German garrison
and a number of Norwegian Quislings at the radio station at Glåpen .
The raiding force was attacked on 27 December 1941 by a German
seaplane that bombed the cruiser Arethusa. Although it was not hit, it
did suffer some damage that would require 14 weeks in dock to repair.
With no air support of their own, the commander of the raid, Admiral
Hamilton , having occupied the Norwegian villages for two days,
decided to pull out and head back to Scapa, where they arrived on 1
During Operation Anklet, two radio transmitters were destroyed,
several small German boats were captured or sunk and a small number of
Germans and Quislings were made prisoners of war . The navy had also
captured an Enigma coding machine with its associated wheels and
settings from the patrol ship they had sunk. They also returned with
over 200 Norwegians who had volunteered to serve in the Free Norwegian
Forces . The raid was successful, with no casualties to the Allied
force, and at least one lesson seemed to have been learnt, as it was
the last raid undertaken without air support. During the war, there
were 12 commando raids directed against Norway, the German response
to these raids was to increase the number of troops they had stationed
there. By 1944, the German garrison in
Norway had risen to 370,000
men. By comparison, a British infantry division in 1944 had an
establishment of 18,347 men.
* ^ The 10 independent companies were raised from volunteers in
second line Territorial Army divisions in April 1940. They were
intended for guerrilla style operations in
Norway following the German
invasion. Each of the 10 companies initially consisted of 21 officers
and 268 other ranks .
* ^ Messenger, p.47
* ^ "No. 38342".
The London Gazette . 2 July 1948. p. 3881. "Raid
on military and economic objectives in the vicinity of Vaagso island"
* ^ A B Haskew, p.47
* ^ Chappell, p.6
* ^ Moreman, p.13
* ^ A B Messenger, p.15
* ^ A B C D E F G "
Lofoten Islands 2nd Raid 26/27 December 1941".
Combined Operations. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
* ^ A B C D E F "Background Events, December 1941 to February
1942". Naval History. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
* ^ "HMS Wheatland". Naval History. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
* ^ "Operation Anklet". Commando operations in Norway. Retrieved 18
* ^ Chappell, p.14
* ^ Brayley Chappell, Mike (2001). British Army 1939–45 (1):
North-West Europe. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-052-8 .
* Chappell, Mike (1996). Army Commandos 1940–1945. Osprey
Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-579-9 .
* Haskew, Michael E (2007). Encyclopaedia of Elite Forces in the
Second World War. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-84415-577-4 .
* Joslen, H. F. (1990). Orders of Battle, Second World War,
1939–1945. Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84342-474-6 .
* Messenger, Charles (2004). The D Day Atlas.
Thames & Hudson . ISBN
* Moreman, Timothy Robert (2006).
British Commandos 1940–46.
Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-986-X .